MIW is short for a mental inquest warrant. An MIW is actually a process by which someone:

  1. Who is mentally ill;
  2. Who presents a danger or threat of danger to self, family or others as a result of the mental illness;
  3. Who can reasonably benefit from treatment; and
  4. For whom hospitalization is the least restrictive mode of treatment available

Can be hospitalized for a limited period of time to stabilize their mental illness.

A MIW is NOT for someone:

  1. Whose sole problem is drug or alcohol abuse;
  2. Who is developmentally disabled and cannot benefit from treatment.

If you need assistance during this process, please contact the Nelson County Attorney’s Office at (502) 348-1850.


Process to Obtain an MIW 

  1. If you know someone who meets the above criteria, you may petition the Court for an MIW. If it is during regular office house (8:30 – 5:00, M-F), you should come to the Nelson County Attorney’s Office for a petition. If there is an emergency situation involving mental illness during other hours, call your local law enforcement department or dial 911.



What is an MIW? 

An MIW is short for a mental inquest warrant (KRS 202A.006 et. seq.). It permits the District Court to order someone who meets certain criteria to be picked up by the police for treatment.


What are the criteria for a MIW?

For the Court to order involuntary treatment, it must find that the person:

  1. Is mentally ill;
  2. Presents a danger or threat of danger to self, family or others as a result of the mental illness;
  3. Can reasonably benefit from treatment; and
  4. For whom hospitalization is the least restrictive mode of treatment available


Who can file for an MIW?

Any person can file for an MIW. However, the person should be familiar with the mentally ill person so that they can describe the mental illness and the behavior that justifies the MIW.


What is the difference between and MIW and a Casey Law Petition?

MIWs are for persons who are mentally ill. A Casey Law Petition is for someone who suffers from alcohol or drug addiction. Oftentimes, there are symptoms of both mental illness and drug addiction in the same person (sometimes called a dual diagnosis or comorbidity). In those situations, only a mental health professional can determine the right course of action. The presence of drugs or alcohol will make the diagnosis of a mental illness much more difficult. If someone is actively under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a MIW is not advised because even a seasoned mental health professional cannot distinguish between whether the problems are caused by the drugs or the mental illness.


How does the process work?

During normal business hours, please call the County Attorney’s Office:

  • A spouse, relative, friend or guardian must file a petition. The petition can be obtained through the County Attorney’s Office. The person filing the petition is called the Petitioner.
  • The petitioner will meet with an attorney as soon as possible to determine if grounds exist to file the MIW with the Court.
  • If the Court determines that sufficient grounds exist to issue the MIW, the Court will order the Respondent to be immediately taken into custody by the police and transported for an evaluation by a mental health provider.
  • If the mental health provider determines that treatment is appropriate, the respondent will be transported to Hardin Memorial Hospital for treatment.


Outside normal business hours:

  • Call the police or 911.
  • A police officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that a person meets MIW criteria may take that person into custody and transport them to Communicare.
  • If the respondent is already at the hospital, an authorized staff physician may order the admission of the respondent (KRS 202A.031 (1)).


How long will the process take?

Once the Petition is filed, the Court will examine the petition to see if it meets the criteria for an MIW. Provided that it does, the Court will immediately ask the police locate and transport the respondent to either the local Communicare Clinic or to the Communicare Clinic in Elizabethtown (if after hours) for an evaluation.   Depending on the results of that evaluation, the respondent may be held for 72 hours or longer, depending on their need for treatment.


Is there a cost to the person filing the petition?

There is no cost to a person filing the petition. However, the petition is filed under oath. If material allegations in the petition are untrue, the petitioner could be charged with a crime.